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In all the excitement over remote work, it’s easy to forget that a huge amount of work still takes place in offices – and the quality of those spaces makes a huge impression on staff.

No one wants to come to work in dark, dilapidated offices that haven’t been refurbished in a while, with worn carpeting, battered furniture and stains around the light switches. If you can tell the most-frequented parts of the office by the places where the carpet is wearing through, it’s probably time to consider sprucing the place up.

The 2018 Best Firms to Work For are paying attention to the office environment, prioritizing things like natural light, access to windows and fresh air, and spaces that encourage collaboration but also allow for privacy.

“We recently remodeled our offices,” reported Michigan’s Hungerford Nichols CPAs. “[Employees] love the natural light, collaborative workspaces.”

Similarly, California’s LevitZacks has brand-new “employee-focused” offices: “Team members are thrilled with their brand new offices!” the firm reported. “Everyone has their own office in this bright and cohesive workspace.”

Anything from a new coat of paint to a wholesale remodeling of the workplace can lift spirits, improve productivity, and make staff feel better about coming to work – but there are other ways firms can use their office space to keep employees engaged and happy.

For instance, many of the Best Firms include on-site gyms, dedicated exercise rooms or other spaces where employees can get fit. The Hickory, N.C., office of Davidson, Holland, Whitesell & Co., for instance, has a fully equipped exercise facility (including showers, lockers and dressing rooms), while the Coral Gables, Florida, office of MBA uses its rooftop terrace for a weekly Boot Camp with a personal trainer.

Giving employees a place to sweat is one way to use office space; the game room at Nebraska’s Lutz, with darts, video games and Foosball, is another, as is the “dedicated relaxation room” at Allen, Gibbs & Houlik in Kansas. “It offers a quiet place to de-stress, including a massage chair, heated blanket, essential oils, music, and books for those who need a respite.”

Some firms combine their approaches to stress relief: “A ping pong table and beer taps were priorities when designing our office,” reported Texas-based ATKG. “Couple that with an incredible great room with surround-sound speakers and a 90-inch television, and you have a recipe for ‘immediate de-stress.’"

In the end, the key is for firms not to take their office surroundings for granted – because their employees definitely won’t.

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